Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia: 2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report
An all-around productive runner at West Virginia, Wendell Smallwood is one of the most electric talents in the draft.
Few in the draft have more to offer at one position than West Virginia’s Wendell Smallwood. The standout Mountaineer enjoyed a productive three-year college career before forgoing his senior season.
His breakout year came in 2015 when he tore the Big 12 apart, rushing for 100 yards seven out of nine times against opponents from the conference. Smallwood cemented his status as one of the country’s biggest playmakers and electric athletes alike.
Will his skillset translate over into the NFL? Let’s breakdown Smallwood’s draft stock.
Wt: 208 pounds
Hometown: Wilmington, DE
Smallwood has an incredible combination of speed and quickness, making him nearly unstoppable once he hits the edge. He’s a patient runner that can work the inside just as capably, owning an initial burst to the hole that is second to none. In the open field, you can forget about it. Smallwood has great lateral agility and is willing to cut back against the grain without losing much forward momentum.
In the league, teams will be able to use the versatile back in a number of ways. He’s a fine option coming out of the backfield and has the athleticism needed to return kickoffs, something he did during his early college days.
At 5-foot-10, 208 pounds, Smallwood lacks an ideal “bell-cow” type of frame. At this point, he’s built more to be a complimentary type of running back, or scat-back, than a true every down player. Smallwood isn’t really a pile mover and needs to do a better job of breaking tackles if he wants to see significant minutes.
While the former Mountaineer may be a fine receiving threat, he’s a poor pass-protector that has had little experience doing so. Off the field, Smallwood’s draft stock would certainly be higher if not for a disturbing 2014 arrest, where he was charged with attempting to intimidate a witness in a murder case. Not good.
An explosive running back with a knack for making the big play, Smallwood has a lot to offer at the next level. He needs to put on some more weight if he’s going to find success in the league, though, and his pass-protection absolutely needs more work.
Smallwood can be expected to be selected anywhere between the fourth and sixth rounds.